16GB of RAM gives M3 MacBook Pro a serious performance boost for digital artists


Late-2023 MacBook Pro with M3
Yes, more RAM is better. But how much better?
Photo: Apple

Tests show that the 8GB version of the M3 MacBook Pro is significantly slower than the 16GB version when running Photoshop, Blender and others graphics applications.

And there are performances differences for other types of apps, too. But these are not as dramatic.

Artists need 16GB of RAM in M3 MacBook Pro for better performance

More RAM increases the performance of computers when multitasking. That’s a truism. So the question facing buyers of the new MacBook Pro 14-inch with the M3 processor is if doubling the RAM brings enough of a performance gain to justify the additional $200 cost.

Tests conducted by the YouTube channel Max Tech showed that professional-grade image and video editing applications take up so much RAM that the 16GB version of the macOS laptop always runs these faster. That’s especially true with other apps open in the background and when working with multiple files.

The performance differences are sometimes dramatic. The 8GB version took twice as long exporting 50 images from Lightroom Classic with five tabs also open in Chrome (a notorious RAM hog). Exporting a project in Final Cut Pro took four times longer.

It seems clear, digital artists should avoid the base model configuration. The 16GB MacBook Pro offers noticeably better performance.

But not everyone is a digital artist

All that said, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. aren’t the only applications that people run on the MacBook Pro. One could even argue that the base model 14-inch MBP with the low-end version of the M3 processor isn’t for graphic artists at all. They should probably opt for the M3 Pro or M3 Max instead.

But businesspeople and students also choose a Pro over the MacBook Air to get additional ports and support for more monitors. But do they need more than 8GB of RAM?

Tests done in the web-browsing benchmarking app Speedometer done by Max Tech show that the 16GB version scored a 598 while the 8GB version came in lower at 496 — a 19% difference.

In addition, the Max Tech YouTube video shows that with browser 20 tabs open, the notebook with double the base RAM is somewhat more responsive.

Non-artists will need to judge for themselves if the performance differences that come from configuring their M3 MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM justify paying 13% more for the computer.

For more details, watch the full Max Tech video:


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